How Lancashire businesses have responded to the coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 15:55 25 June 2020

Julie Langan has produced hudreds of rainbow glass pieces to help Wigan-based charity The Brick

Julie Langan has produced hudreds of rainbow glass pieces to help Wigan-based charity The Brick

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Lockdown has brought out best in communities and businesses across Lancashire

Rob Page, Plumbs Production Director, cutting scrubs for Preston doctorsRob Page, Plumbs Production Director, cutting scrubs for Preston doctors

Over the rainbow

Glass artist Julie Langan has raised nearly £7,000 from the sale of fused glass rainbows and rainbow hearts, to help provide much-needed funds for Wigan-based charity The Brick.

Julie produces bespoke glass artwork and giftware and runs glass-making courses at her workshop and gallery at Cedar Farm in Mawdesley.

The Brick, a Wigan-based charity, provides support for people across Wigan and Leigh who are homeless, in crisis or facing poverty and due to the Covid-19 Crisis, the charity’s foodbank has experienced a 73% drop in donations and over 300% demand for food parcels.

What More senior engineer Rob Walker with one of the masksWhat More senior engineer Rob Walker with one of the masks

Julie said: ‘So many people right now must be facing enormous uncertainty and it is a great comfort to think that no matter who they are and what their situation The Brick is there to offer support help and guidance.’

Within 24 hours of the campaign launch, Julie had sold all of her 100 glass rainbow pieces from her Facebook page and launched the second phase of the campaign a week later, with another 100 pieces sold in under four hours.

To find out more, go to julielanganglass.co.uk and to donate to the Brick, text BRICK to 70480 plus the selected financial donation for example: Text BRICK 15 to 70480 to donate £15. To find out more, visit thebrick.org.uk.

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The team at DA Design Automation, with directors Tim Walton and John Morris second right and far rightThe team at DA Design Automation, with directors Tim Walton and John Morris second right and far right

New menus

Lancashire’s hospitality industry has continued to provide throughout the lockdown, albeit in a very different way to normal. Cuckoo Gin have been selling re-fills at their Brindle distillery, Imagine Inns have offered contactless collection pubs across the county and diners in Ramsbottom have enjoyed

Sunday lunch delivered by the Eagle & Child to lucky locals

in Ramsbottom.

Lancashire culinary royalty Breda Murphy has been producing ready meals throughout lockdown. She said: ‘It was a necessity that we found a way to keep trading and keep in touch with our customers.’

Breda is planning to continue the service and to re-open the deli, as well as developing other catering opportunities. She knows the restaurant will be the last element to re-open but added: ‘We hope having 100 covers, four dining areas split over two floors with an outside eating area means we are in a fortunate position to survive

this pandemic.’

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Brownie points

The Cartford Inn’s TOTI (Taste of the Inn) at Home, mail order and take-away operations made their moreish brownies the lockdown brownie of choice in many homes.

Jean, the daughter of owners Patrick and Julie Beaumé, said: ‘It was one of the easiest things to do at the beginning, because you can post brownies quite easily. I set about sorting out the packaging, got some good quality photos on the website and I woke up the following morning to 150 brownie orders.’

TOTI staples such as wild garlic pesto, chilli jam, chocolates,

sauces and chutneys have also proved popular and Brian Townson’s NHS lips chocolates, raising funds for NHS, were in great demand over Easter.

‘That first week we had such an amazing local response. We have such loyal customers and then we got a mention from Observer food critic Jay Rayner and others who spread the word nationally.’

TOTI-at home now runs Thursdays to Sunday and Jean added: ‘We have lots of plans for

re-opening we have four greenhouses arriving soon, which is a really exciting ‘dining in the garden’ project.’

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New look factory

Managing director of Burnley-based UPVC window and door manufacturer VEKA plc, David Jones leads a tour of their new factory layout in a short film explaining the changes they have had to make. He presents ‘Keeping our team safe’ with operations director Paul Armstrong and demonstrates the new measures which include temperature screening on arrival, sanitiser stations and social distancing.

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New measures take off

Around a quarter of the workforce – about 2,700 staff – are now back working at BAE sites at Warton and Samlesbury. Those who have returned have found new measures in place in the factories and offices, with social distancing signage and a shift system, so there are never too many people in at any one time.

Chris Boardman, group managing director of BAE Systems Air in Lancashire, said: ‘It’s not easy and not natural but we have to work in a new way. We will not ask anyone to do a particular task if they have not got the right PPE and we will not take it from sources the NHS might need. In fact, we have made and distributed in Lancashire alone 20,000 face-shields which we 3D printed in our Advanced Manufacturing Facility.’

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Hope for the future

Hope Technology in Barnoldswick engineer bicycle components but they’ve also been creating essential PPE and ventilator parts for the NHS.

‘There are so many people on the frontline risking a lot more than we are and it was important for us to be able to do our bit to back them up,’ said sales and marketing manager Alan Weatherill. ‘We were just pleased to be able to do something to help.’

Their 3D printers, more used to making bike parts, were reassigned to making full face visors, producing 140 a week for the Lancashire Health Trust, the reduced team at Hope have also made over 1,000 stainless steel components for ventilators every week.

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Rooms for keys

The Lawrence boutique hotel in Padiham has operated at full capacity since the lockdown began but guests had to pass stringent checks carried out by owner Michael Huckerby, who makes clear that residents must be key/essential workers or visiting the area to attend a funeral.

‘We have found ourselves fully booked, which obviously we are grateful for,’ he said. ‘When the government first announced lockdown, we assumed we’d be closed until further notice. However, we were soon inundated with enquiries to provide a safe and secure place for key workers. We also had requests from people who had to attend funerals in the area.’

The team has also transformed one of lounges of the hotel into a not-for-profit shop selling a range of basic provisions at cost price.

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Farm safari

Thornton Hall Farm Country Park at Thornton-in Craven, have developed a drive-through farm safari which is due to open on July 4th. Director Emma Harrison said: ‘Come and enjoy a variety of farm animals as you journey over some of our 160 acres of fields and quarry land, getting up close and personal with the animals – all from the comfort of your own car on the UK’s first ever farm safari.’

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Celebrating suppliers

Previous diners and subscribers to the newsletter from the two Michelin star Moor Hall restaurant at Aughton have been sent a questionnaire asking how the Coronavirus crisis will change their dining habits. Their

answers will help to shape the venue’s future.

Mark Birchall’s restaurant with rooms – the UK’s number one restaurant last year, and winner of a Special Achievement Award at the 2019 Lancashire Life Food & Drink Awards – is also taking steps to help ensure the safety of staff and visitors. They will move to a cashless payment system,

step up the cleaning regimes and will carefully monitor staff health and wellbeing.

During the lockdown, they have also been championing their suppliers, many of which have remained open and now offer delivery services. Go to moorhall.com/suppliers to find links to the farmers and artisan producers they work with, and money off offers.

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Dear diary

Business owners across the North West are being encouraged to keep diaries of their experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) Entrepreneurs from the food production, IT services, manufacturing and professional services sectors are already taking part, keeping diaries to record events and business decisions, along with the feelings and circumstances that surround them.

‘We could conduct interviews after the event, but you will always get a view through rose-tinted spectacles, without recalling all the gory details,’ said LUMS Teaching Fellow Brian Gregory.

‘The longer we have businesses keeping these diaries, the more we will learn about the decision-making process and how entrepreneurs behave in a crisis. This is not limited to Covid-19, but applies to all kinds of crisis.’

To take part, email Brian Gregory at b.gregory1@lancaster.ac.uk.

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Fit to train

Students on an industry-led fitness course at Burnley College Sixth Form Centre have created online workouts for their family, friends and the community isolating at home during the lockdown. Tutor Holly Lynch said: ‘They were tasked with getting more people moving while developing their coaching skills during these difficult times. Their commitment and determination to put their training into practice has given them their first taste of having ‘real’ clients and given them all a great sense

of achievement.’

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Fired up

Lancaster wood and fuel specialist, Logs Direct, has expanded its product range during lockdown, to cater for the growth in interest in gardens and cooking.

The Halton-based business is now offering customers three different al fresco culinary experiences: a Valoriani wood-fired pizza oven, a Quan wood-fired barbecue and an Esse outdoor cooking stove, plus a range of other products that can be used with them.

To find out more, go to logsdirect.co.uk

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Mugging up

Emma Sutton, the artist behind Walton-le-Dale-based homeware company Mosney Mill has launched a fine china robin and rainbow mug donating 100% of the net profits to the NHS Together Covid 19 Appeal.

‘The idea behind the mug is to give people a way of showing they care, whether it’s to thank a key worker or to let a friend or relative know you’re thinking of them, ’ said Emma.

The mug is £12 and is available at www.mosneymill.co.uk

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Still steaming

The East Lancashire Railway future is closer to being secured as donations passed the £100,000 mark, with contributions from around the world.

The cherished heritage attraction launched a £200,000 emergency fundraising drive in March after the Coronavirus crisis forced it to close its doors. Without reaching its target the railway risks remaining closed for good.

Mike said: “It’s been heart-warming to see the support from every corner of the globe. We’re making great progress towards our £200,000 target which will secure the future of the railway for generations to come. But we’re not quite there yet.’

To add your support, go online to eastlancsrailway.org.uk

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A new plot

Weeton’s Black Powder Gin have put their distillery to good use. The multi-award-winning company is not only making some of the best gins in the world but is also producing much-needed hand sanitiser for the NHS and keyworkers in their community. Along with support from natural toiletries brand Faith in Nature, who have a base in Radcliffe and supplied 50 litres of aloe vera wash, they have donated many litres of hand sanitiser to frontline workers.

‘There appear to be many commercial producers who are capitalising on demand and thereby charging exorbitant prices,’ said company founder Anthony Dalnas. ‘We all feel very humbled to be able to do something at such a significantly critical time.’

Black Powder need help securing 100ml atomiser bottles or containers to fill with sanitiser. If you can help or have a specific need for sanitiser email info@blackpowdergin.co.uk.

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Sew much support

Cokson & Clegg, a Blackburn community clothing company founded by Patrick Grant, has created more than 100,000 items of PPE for frontline workers and they are making an anti-viral snood which is going to a huge range of applications globally.

Patrick, who is currently on our TV screens The Great British Sewing Bee, said: ‘It has been a brilliant collective effort. We’ve had help from a number of local manufacturers; County Brook Mill in Colne have helped with cutting fabric; Edward Taylor Textiles in Blackburn and Eastman Staples in Huddersfield have lent us machinery; Hobkirk’s in Blackburn brought an engineer back out of furlough to build us some machines; Carringtons in Chorley are providing the fabrics.

‘I’m happy to see people in the UK realising the worth of those people who make things for a living. People in manufacturing jobs are once again being valued nationally.’

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Home help

The Best Western Lothersdale Hotel in Morecambe has kept its doors open to provide accommodation for many key workers at Heysham Power Station, Morecambe Bay gas rigs and port workers from The Isle of Man who are stranded on the mainland as well as temporarily housing some of the most vulnerable in society.

The hotel is also operating a popular takeaway bistro and afternoon tea delivery service seven days a week. Within the first two weeks, the reduced six-person team made and delivered around 500 takeaways to customers in Morecambe, Heysham and Lancaster. From delivering an afternoon tea delivery on a shovel for a lady’s 80th birthday, to taking orders from distant relatives in Australia, the hotel team continue to spread a little joy. They also have plans to arrange two celebratory events for local NHS and key workers once it is safe to do so.

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Covering their backs

Longstanding Lancashire upholstery manufacturer Plumbs has helped a local sewing group to provide much-needed NHS scrubs. They donated 600m of fabric to a local community initiative using in-home sewers to produce essential goods such as scrubs, scrub bags, headbands and ear savers.

With a highly skilled team of sewers behind them, professional fabric cutting technology, Plumbs felt they would contribute even more to the cause and donated £5,000 to purchase large volumes of royal blue and green scrub fabric, which they then returned ready to sew to the community group.

The community sewing group continues to raise money to buy fabric and goods. To help, visit

www.gofundme.com/f/sewing-urgent-supplies-for-preston039s-nhs?.

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Shield source

Employees from BAE Systems across Lancashire are donating vital Personal Protective Equipment to the NHS, with a target of delivering more than 145,000 face shields to the frontline.

All BAE Systems industrial-scale 3D printers, including at its site in Samlesbury, are now producing face shields, with supplies being delivered every day, directly to frontline medical staff around the UK. Their smaller scale 3D printers are also producing face shields and ‘door claws’ that help care homes reduce the spread of infection through door handles. The aerospace company is also a member of VentilatorChallengeUK, a consortium of companies rapidly producing ventilators in the fight against Covid-19.

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Fashioning more help

Fashion and design experts from University of Central Lancashire have swapped catwalk creations for producing sought-after isolation gowns for Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

The team, led by UCLan alumnus and part-time lecturer Femida Adam and including David Knight, UCLan’s Art and Foundation programme course leader, has worked around the clock to produce an initial batch of 150 gowns using specialist fabric donated by Adlington’s Carrington Textiles.

Kevin McGee, chief executive of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Hospital Cell Lead for the Lancashire and South Cumbria ICS Covid-19 NHS Co-ordination Structure, says: ‘It is extremely valuable to have additional sources of protective equipment during this challenging period for all health and care staff and we are very grateful to UCLan and Carrington Textiles for their support and sterling efforts in turning this around so quickly. This adds further meaning to protecting our NHS and saving lives.’

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Science success

Lancaster University has offered the use of its own labs to boost the number of tests for Covid-19 among NHS staff and patients. University staff from Biomedical and Life Sciences (BLS) in the Faculty of Health and Medicine are now working with NHS staff from the diagnostic labs in UHMBT, using testing kits which are supplied by the NHS. The diagnostic testing has been validated and the facility is now fully operational.

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Stay Strongs

West Ham manager David Moyes, who had previously agreed a 30% cut in his £2m a year salary, delivered fruit and veg for his local greengrocer, Strongs of Lytham.

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More at Mere

Wildlife charity WWT, which runs Martin Mere Wetland Centre in Lancashire, has launched a new online ‘wild’ home learning hub to help hard pressed parents teach their primary school aged children key parts of the science curriculum. New resources, covering different conservation science themes, will be released weekly on a Monday morning during lockdown. wwt.org.uk/homelearning

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Caring for carers

Staff at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust who are self-isolating or living away from their families so they can care for Covid-19 patients are being provided with essential items by local businesses. Booths in Kirkby Lonsdale and in Scotforth, Tesco Extra in Barrow and Morrisons and Primark in Lancaster have donated everything from toiletries to pyjamas and socks.

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Delivery dates

Many food and drink producers have adapted, setting up home delivery, takeaway service or moving their business online, including several former Lancashire Life Food and Drink award winners. The Cartford Inn at Great Eccleston has not only been sending out their moreish brownies across the country, they have also recently launched a takeaway service, as have Ellel’s Bay Horse Inn and Goosnargh Gin, also the proud sponsors of our crossword, have been sending their gin out to happy customers. Need more inspiration? Visit visitlancashire.com/bring-lancashire-home/food-and-drink-deliveries.

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Souped up help

Wilfred’s, the newest hotel at the Crow Wood Hotel and Spa Resort at Burnley has produced and frozen more than 900 soups and distributed them to local charities and care homes. The luxury resort has also donated toilet roll and sugar to the local NHS hospital.

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More and more

Altham-based manufacturer What More UK are making about 120,000 parts for PPE visors every week. Senior engineer Rob Walker said: ‘Although we are increasing our efforts to support the war against the virus, as a company we hope and pray it won’t be needed for much longer and the UK can return to normality.’

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Gifts of thanks

Mediterranean Linens at Burnley have been converting cotton pillowcases into scrubs bags filled with gifts including chocolates, key rings, face and hand creamsfor NHS staff.

Ashraf Said, the company’s founder and managing director, said: ‘We want to say a massive, heartfelt thank you to everyone who works on the front line of this crisis. We are so proud of the NHS. It’s the envy of the world. With these gifts, we are saying that we are so grateful for everything you do.’

To donate gifts for the scrubs bag, contact Mediterranean Linens via the Facebook page www.facebook.com/mediterraneanlinens.

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